May 8, 2023

Twin sisters follow in mom’s footsteps to become UW Health nurses

Twin sisters Paula Pope (left) and Jenna Shinstine (right) with their mother, Denise Cheramy
Twin sisters Paula Pope (left) and Jenna Shinstine (right) with their mother, Denise Cheramy

National Nurses Week is May 6-12

MADISON, Wis. – Growing up in Madison, twin sisters Jenna Shinstine and Paula Pope learned at an early age their mom, Denise Cheramy, had an important job.

“As kids, we would have a snow day from school, but my mom still had to go into the hospital to take care of patients, so we figured she was kind of a big deal,” Shinstine said.

Cheramy was a nurse in the operating room at University Hospital for 37 years before retiring in 2013.

As they got older, the twins also got to see their mom in action.

“We went with her to 'Take Your Child to Work Day' and were in awe of what she did in the operating room,” Pope said.

Growing up seeing her dedication as a nurse, both sisters wanted to be like their mom, so they followed her lead and are now entering their 20th year as nurses at UW Health.

“In nursing school, we could lean on her because she understood our world,” Shinstine said. “She taught us about perseverance, kindness, determination and compassion.”

Shinstine works in the pre-operating outpatient clinic at University Hospital, while Pope works at the UW Health Digestive Health Center.

“She was our biggest cheerleader and showed us how to take pride in our job because being a nurse was truly a blessing,” Pope said. “We had a newfound respect for our mom when we became nurses because we learned all that goes into this job.”

Nursing would eventually bring them together professionally, too. At the beginning of the twins’ careers and at the end of their mom’s career, all three worked together in the operating room at University Hospital, a special time when family became coworkers, they said.

“I was very proud of them for becoming nurses and it was a fun experience to work with them,” Cheramy said. “But at times it was hard for me to see them experience the tough parts of the job.”

Still, she was glad to be with them through the laughter and tears, she said.

“We are still able to pick up the phone and talk to her about a long day and she still knows all the right things to say,” Pope said. “She was a great nurse that we still look up to.”

Both sisters are proud to carry on the family tradition.

“She stayed at UW Health her entire nursing career and that speaks to her dedication and loyalty as a person, mother, friend and nurse,” Shinstine said. “She has been the best role model.”

This week is National Nurses Week, which highlights and honors the contributions and sacrifices nurses make to keep the public safe and healthy.